I came into The Princess completely blind. While I typically had some semblance of what the 20th Century Fox film slate looked like before the Disney buyout, this one completely passed me by. As soon as I gleaned the premise on my first watch, I was in: a “one versus a thousand” action film, but with a princess? Sadly, it doesn’t quite nail the follow through.
Joey King is the titular “princess,” who is ostensibly an action hero that just happens to be royalty. Throughout the film you’ll get a little bit of backstory on how she got there (as well as the various chips on her shoulder), but it doesn’t take long for her formidable skills to kick in. We’re into the fray immediately, and we get the hook directly following the first action scene: the princess needs to reach the bottom of the tower she was locked up in and save her family, with various guards in the way impeding that goal.
Yep, it’s a boss fight movie, similar to genre classics like The Raid series. The thing is, if you’re going to try and attempt something like this, you need to nail the technical aspects. While things start promising and continue to ramp up into various absurd situations and boss battles with elite foes, everything falls apart in the middle.
Joey King is great as the princess, providing a believable canvas in which to absorb the premise, and is convincing in her ability to outwit and outclass her opponents. Dominic Cooper, who plays the main baddie, doesn’t really have a lot to work with. We know he’s capable of carrying action scenes based on multiple years of The Preacher TV series, but he doesn’t get much to do here other than complain and snarl. Not many other people in the film are either of note, or consequently, have much to work with either.
“The Princess started off as a rush for me, but became less and less fun as it ran out of ideas and started to tread water.”
Really, the action sequences are the crown jewel of The Princess. But my main issue is with the shaky cam, poor special effects (especially the flame visuals), and lots of cuts for scenes that should be marquee showcases for the stunt team. Once you start getting out of the confines of the tower (where the action is mainly focused and confined) into the grander scale battles, the film unravels.
The action gets very sloppy, as the choreography often wants you to believe that something was a “close call,” but the blade or projectile is nowhere near our hero. The entire last sequence is a mess on multiple levels, with so much going on, tons of cuts, and a lack of cohesion as the narrative attempts to conclude multiple story arcs: often without stakes or real consequences.
The Princess started off as a rush for me, but became less and less fun as it ran out of ideas and started to tread water. It’s a guilty pleasure though, and Hulu is the perfect place for it.